Francesco de Mura

Francesco de Mura

Italian, Naples, 1696-1782

Francesco de Mura was born in Naples, Italy in 1696. As a child, his father sent him to study painting in the workshop of Cavaliere Domenico Viola in Naples, but Viola died about a year after de Mura's arrival. In 1708, at the age of twelve, de Mura entered the school of Francesco Solimena, one of Naples' best-known artists. De Mura would go on to become one of Solimena's favorite pupils and the two artists would form a close friendship.

In 1713, de Mura exhibited a painting publicly for the first time. A depiction of Crucified Christ with the Virgin and St. John, it had been executed for the nuns of the Crocelle di Mannesi. De Mura's earlier works, like this one, followed Solimena's Baroque style, but the artist would gradually refine his own style, which incorporated lighter colors, an emphasis on psychology, and an interest in European Rococo art.

De Mura's developing style would become apparent in a number of works commissioned by Neapolitan religious institutions, like his 1728 paintings of the Virtues and the Adoration of the Magi for S Maria Donnaromita and his frescoes in the apsidal dome of the church of the Nunziatella in 1732. In 1738, de Mura began work on frescoes depicting the Life of St. Benedict in Naples' church of SS Severino and Sossio.

Aside from religious works, de Mura also worked as a portraitist and received governmental commissions. From 1737 to 1738, de Mura executed two allegorical ceiling paintings in the Palazzo Reale in Naples. In 1741, de Mura was invited to Turin by Charles Emmanuel II of Savoy, King of Sardinia, who granted him the status of court painter. From 1741 to 1743, de Mura painted large decorative cycles for Turin's Palazzo Reale depicting scenes from Greek history and mythology. While living in Turin, he worked with other artists involved in the Palazzo's decorations who may have influenced him to more fully embrace the lighter color palate that distinguished him from his past as a student of Solimena.

After completing his work in Turin, de Mura returned to Naples to complete the decorative scheme of SS Severino and Sossio. In 1751, de Mura resumed work on the Nunziatella, where he frescoed the church's ceiling with the grandiose Assumption of the Virgin. De Mura then joined the newly-founded Neapolitan Accademia di Belle Arti in 1752.

Throughout the 1750s and 1760s, de Mura continued to work as a portraitist, execute works for the Palazzo Reale in Turin, paint mythological and allegorical scenes, and accept commissions from religious institutions. In 1766, he was appointed president of the Accademia di Belle Arti. Perhaps because of this, de Mura's work during this period became increasingly formal, academic and traditional, a shift in style that would gradually result in a decline in the popularity of his work.

In 1770, de Mura retired from his directorship of the Accademia, but continued to operate the large and popular atelier that he had established. De Mura's studio included a number of Neapolitan artists, like Pietro Bardellino, Fidele Fischetti, and Giacinto Diano, who would be active in the later eighteenth century and exhibit de Mura's influence. De Mura also continued to accept commissions during the 1770s. His most notable work from this period is his painting A Woman of Arezzo Offering Her Son to Blessed Paolo d'Arezzo and Blessed Giovanni Marinone, painted in 1775 for the church of the SS Apostoli.

De Mura died in Naples in 1782 and bequeathed 340 of his paintings to the Pio Monte della Misericordia, which remain in the church's collection.

  • painting
  • Italian
  • Naples, Italy
  • Naples, Italy

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